• The invasin D protein fromYersinia pseudotuberculosisselectively binds the Fab region of host antibodies and affects colonization of the intestine.

      Sadana, Pooja; Geyer, Rebecca; Pezoldt, Joern; Helmsing, Saskia; Huehn, Jochen; Hust, Michael; Dersch, Petra; Scrima, Andrea; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-03-13)
      Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a Gram-negative bacterium and zoonotic pathogen responsible for a wide range of diseases, ranging from mild diarrhea, enterocolitis, lymphatic adenitis to persistent local inflammation. TheY. pseudotuberculosisinvasin D (InvD) molecule belongs to the invasin (InvA)-type autotransporter proteins, but its structure and function remain unknown. In this study, we present the first crystal structure of InvD, analyzed its expression and function in a murine infection model, and identified its target molecule in the host. We found that InvD is induced at 37°C and expressed in vivo2-4 days after infection, indicating that InvD is a virulence factor. During infection, InvD was expressed in all parts of the intestinal tract, but not in deeper lymphoid tissues. The crystal structure of the C-terminal adhesion domain of InvD revealed a distinct Ig-related fold, that, apart from the canonical β-sheets, comprises various modifications of and insertions into the Ig-core structure. We identified the Fab fragment of host-derived IgG/IgA antibodies as the target of the adhesion domain. Phage display panning and flow cytometry data further revealed that InvD exhibits a preferential binding specificity toward antibodies with VH3/VK1 variable domains and that it is specifically recruited to a subset of B cells. This finding suggests that InvD modulates Ig functions in the intestine and affects direct interactions with a subset of cell surface-exposed B-cell receptors. In summary, our results provide extensive insights into the structure of InvD and its specific interaction with the target molecule in the host.
    • Phenotypic heterogeneity: a bacterial virulence strategy.

      Weigel, W A; Dersch, P; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02-01)
      Growing knowledge of the complexity of the host-pathogen interactions during the course of an infection revealed an amazing variability of bacterial pathogens within the same host tissue site. This heterogeneity in bacterial populations is either the result of a different bacterial response to a slightly divergent tissue microenvironment or is caused by a genetic circuit in which small endogenous fluctuations in a small number of transcription factors drive gene expression in combination with a positive feedback loop. As a result host-pathogen encounters can have different outcomes in individual cells, which enables bet-hedging and/or a co-operative behavior that enhance bacterial fitness and virulence, drive different host responses and promote resistance of small subpopulations to antibiotic treatment. This has a strong impact on the progression and control of the infection, which must be considered for the development of successful antimicrobial therapies.
    • Loss of CNFY toxin-induced inflammation drives Yersinia pseudotuberculosis into persistency.

      Heine, Wiebke; Beckstette, Michael; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Thiemann, Sophie; Heise, Ulrike; Nuss, Aaron Mischa; Pisano, Fabio; Strowig, Till; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02)
      Gastrointestinal infections caused by enteric yersiniae can become persistent and complicated by relapsing enteritis and severe autoimmune disorders. To establish a persistent infection, the bacteria have to cope with hostile surroundings when they transmigrate through the intestinal epithelium and colonize underlying gut-associated lymphatic tissues. How the bacteria gain a foothold in the face of host immune responses is poorly understood. Here, we show that the CNFY toxin, which enhances translocation of the antiphagocytic Yop effectors, induces inflammatory responses. This results in extensive tissue destruction, alteration of the intestinal microbiota and bacterial clearance. Suppression of CNFY function, however, increases interferon-γ-mediated responses, comprising non-inflammatory antimicrobial activities and tolerogenesis. This process is accompanied by a preterm reprogramming of the pathogen's transcriptional response towards persistence, which gives the bacteria a fitness edge against host responses and facilitates establishment of a commensal-type life style.
    • Discovering RNA-Based Regulatory Systems for Virulence.

      Knittel, Vanessa; Vollmer, Ines; Volk, Marcel; Dersch, Petra; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      The genus Yersinia includes three human pathogenic species, Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of the bubonic and pneumonic plague, and enteric pathogens Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis that cause a number of gut-associated diseases. Over the past years a large repertoire of RNA-based regulatory systems has been discovered in these pathogens using different RNA-seq based approaches. Among them are several conserved or species-specific RNA-binding proteins, regulatory and sensory RNAs as well as various RNA-degrading enzymes. Many of them were shown to control the expression of important virulence-relevant factors and have a very strong impact on Yersinia virulence. The precise targets, the molecular mechanism and their role for Yersinia pathogenicity is only known for a small subset of identified genus- or species-specific RNA-based control elements. However, the ongoing development of new RNA-seq based methods and data analysis methods to investigate the synthesis, composition, translation, decay, and modification of RNAs in the bacterial cell will help us to generate a more comprehensive view of Yersinia RNA biology in the near future
    • Impact of CCR7 on T-Cell Response and Susceptibility to Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Infection.

      Pezoldt, Joern; Pisano, Fabio; Heine, Wiebke; Pasztoi, Maria; Rosenheinrich, Maik; Nuss, Aaron M; Pils, Marina C; Prinz, Immo; Förster, Reinhold; Huehn, Jochen; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-09-15)
      To successfully limit pathogen dissemination, an immunological link between the entry tissue of the pathogen and the underlying secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs) needs to be established to prime adaptive immune responses. Here, the prerequisite of CCR7 to mount host immune responses within SLOs during gastrointestinal Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection to limit pathogen spread was investigated.
    • Local application of bacteria improves safety of Salmonella-mediated tumor therapy and retains advantages of systemic infection.

      Kocijancic, Dino; Felgner, Sebastian; Schauer, Tim; Frahm, Michael; Heise, Ulrike; Zimmermann, Kurt; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-07)
      Cancer is a devastating disease and a large socio-economic burden. Novel therapeutic solutions are on the rise, although a cure remains elusive. Application of microorganisms represents an ancient therapeutic strategy, lately revoked and refined via simultaneous attenuation and amelioration of pathogenic properties. Salmonella Typhimurium has prevailed in preclinical development. Yet, using virulent strains for systemic treatment might cause severe side effects. In the present study, we highlight a modified strain based on Salmonella Typhimurium UK-1 expressing hexa-acylated Lipid A. We corroborate improved anti-tumor properties of this strain and investigate to which extent an intra-tumoral (i.t.) route of infection could help improve safety and retain advantages of systemic intravenous (i.v.) application. Our results show that i.t. infection exhibits therapeutic efficacy against CT26 and F1.A11 tumors similar to a systemic route of inoculation. Moreover, i.t. application allows extensive dose titration without compromising tumor colonization. Adverse colonization of healthy organs was generally reduced via i.t. infection and accompanied by less body weight loss of the murine host. Despite local application, adjuvanticity remained, and a CT26-specific CD8+ T cell response was effectively stimulated. Most interestingly, also secondary tumors could be targeted with this strategy, thereby extending the unique tumor targeting ability of Salmonella. The i.t. route of inoculation may reap the benefits of systemic infection and aid in safety assurance while directing potency of an oncolytic vector to where it is most needed, namely the primary tumor.
    • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis supports Th17 differentiation and limits de novo regulatory T cell induction by directly interfering with T cell receptor signaling.

      Pasztoi, Maria; Bonifacius, Agnes; Pezoldt, Joern; Kulkarni, Devesha; Niemz, Jana; Yang, Juhao; Teich, René; Hajek, Janina; Pisano, Fabio; Rohde, Manfred; Dersch, Petra; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-04-04)
      Adaptive immunity critically contributes to control acute infection with enteropathogenic Yersinia pseudotuberculosis; however, the role of CD4(+) T cell subsets in establishing infection and allowing pathogen persistence remains elusive. Here, we assessed the modulatory capacity of Y. pseudotuberculosis on CD4(+) T cell differentiation. Using in vivo assays, we report that infection with Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in enhanced priming of IL-17-producing T cells (Th17 cells), whereas induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) was severely disrupted in gut-draining mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs), in line with altered frequencies of tolerogenic and proinflammatory dendritic cell (DC) subsets within mLNs. Additionally, by using a DC-free in vitro system, we could demonstrate that Y. pseudotuberculosis can directly modulate T cell receptor (TCR) downstream signaling within naïve CD4(+) T cells and Tregs via injection of effector molecules through the type III secretion system, thereby affecting their functional properties. Importantly, modulation of naïve CD4(+) T cells by Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in an enhanced Th17 differentiation and decreased induction of Foxp3(+) Tregs in vitro. These findings shed light to the adjustment of the Th17-Treg axis in response to acute Y. pseudotuberculosis infection and highlight the direct modulation of CD4(+) T cell subsets by altering their TCR downstream signaling.
    • The Type III Effector NleD from Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli Differentiates between Host Substrates p38 and JNK.

      Creuzburg, Kristina; Giogha, Cristina; Wong Fok Lung, Tania; Scott, Nichollas E; Mühlen, Sabrina; Hartland, Elizabeth L; Pearson, Jaclyn S; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-02)
      Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a gastrointestinal pathogen that utilizes a type III secretion system (T3SS) to inject an array of virulence effector proteins into host enterocytes to subvert numerous cellular processes for successful colonization and dissemination. The T3SS effector NleD is a 26-kDa zinc metalloprotease that is translocated into host enterocytes, where it directly cleaves and inactivates the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling proteins JNK and p38. Here a library of 91 random transposon-based, in-frame, linker insertion mutants of NleD were tested for their ability to cleave JNK and p38 during transient transfection of cultured epithelial cells. Immunoblot analysis of p38 and JNK cleavage showed that 7 mutant derivatives of NleD no longer cleaved p38 but maintained the ability to cleave JNK. Site-directed mutation of specific regions surrounding the insertion sites within NleD revealed that a single amino acid, R203, was essential for cleavage of p38 but not JNK in a direct in vitro cleavage assay, in transiently transfected cells, or in EPEC-infected cells. Mass spectrometry analysis narrowed the cleavage region to within residues 187 and 213 of p38. Mutation of residue R203 within NleD to a glutamate residue abolished the cleavage of p38 and impaired the ability of NleD to inhibit AP-1-dependent gene transcription of a luciferase reporter. Furthermore, the R203 mutation abrogated the ability of NleD to dampen interleukin-6 production in EPEC-infected cells. Overall, this work provides greater insight into substrate recognition and specificity by the type III effector NleD.
    • Tissue dual RNA-seq allows fast discovery of infection-specific functions and riboregulators shaping host-pathogen transcriptomes.

      Nuss, Aaron M; Beckstette, Michael; Pimenova, Maria; Schmühl, Carina; Opitz, Wiebke; Pisano, Fabio; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-31)
      Pathogenic bacteria need to rapidly adjust their virulence and fitness program to prevent eradication by the host. So far, underlying adaptation processes that drive pathogenesis have mostly been studied in vitro, neglecting the true complexity of host-induced stimuli acting on the invading pathogen. In this study, we developed an unbiased experimental approach that allows simultaneous monitoring of genome-wide infection-linked transcriptional alterations of the host and colonizing extracellular pathogens. Using this tool for Yersinia pseudotuberculosis-infected lymphatic tissues, we revealed numerous alterations of host transcripts associated with inflammatory and acute-phase responses, coagulative activities, and transition metal ion sequestration, highlighting that the immune response is dominated by infiltrating neutrophils and elicits a mixed TH17/TH1 response. In consequence, the pathogen's response is mainly directed to prevent phagocytic attacks. Yersinia up-regulates the gene and expression dose of the antiphagocytic type III secretion system (T3SS) and induces functions counteracting neutrophil-induced ion deprivation, radical stress, and nutritional restraints. Several conserved bacterial riboregulators were identified that impacted this response. The strongest influence on virulence was found for the loss of the carbon storage regulator (Csr) system, which is shown to be essential for the up-regulation of the T3SS on host cell contact. In summary, our established approach provides a powerful tool for the discovery of infection-specific stimuli, induced host and pathogen responses, and underlying regulatory processes.
    • RNA Regulators: Formidable Modulators of Yersinia Virulence.

      Nuss, Aaron M; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01)
      A large repertoire of RNA-based regulatory mechanisms, including a plethora of cis- and trans-acting noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), sensory RNA elements, regulatory RNA-binding proteins, and RNA-degrading enzymes have been uncovered lately as key players in the regulation of metabolism, stress responses, and virulence of the genus Yersinia. Many of them are strictly controlled in response to fluctuating environmental conditions sensed during the course of the infection, and certain riboregulators have already been shown to be crucial for virulence. Some of them are highly conserved among the family Enterobacteriaceae, while others are genus-, species-, or strain-specific and could contribute to the difference in Yersinia pathogenicity. Importantly, the analysis of Yersinia riboregulators has not only uncovered crucial elements and regulatory mechanisms governing host-pathogen interactions, it also revealed exciting new venues for the design of novel anti-infectives.
    • Roles of Regulatory RNAs for Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria and Their Potential Value as Novel Drug Targets.

      Dersch, Petra; Khan, Muna A; Mühlen, Sabrina; Görke, Boris; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      The emergence of antibiotic resistance mechanisms among bacterial pathogens increases the demand for novel treatment strategies. Lately, the contribution of non-coding RNAs to antibiotic resistance and their potential value as drug targets became evident. RNA attenuator elements in mRNA leader regions couple expression of resistance genes to the presence of the cognate antibiotic. Trans-encoded small RNAs (sRNAs) modulate antibiotic tolerance by base-pairing with mRNAs encoding functions important for resistance such as metabolic enzymes, drug efflux pumps, or transport proteins. Bacteria respond with extensive changes of their sRNA repertoire to antibiotics. Each antibiotic generates a unique sRNA profile possibly causing downstream effects that may help to overcome the antibiotic challenge. In consequence, regulatory RNAs including sRNAs and their protein interaction partners such as Hfq may prove useful as targets for antimicrobial chemotherapy. Indeed, several compounds have been developed that kill bacteria by mimicking ligands for riboswitches controlling essential genes, demonstrating that regulatory RNA elements are druggable targets. Drugs acting on sRNAs are considered for combined therapies to treat infections. In this review, we address how regulatory RNAs respond to and establish resistance to antibiotics in bacteria. Approaches to target RNAs involved in intrinsic antibiotic resistance or virulence for chemotherapy will be discussed.
    • Management of a cluster of Clostridium difficile infections among patients with osteoarticular infections.

      Färber, Jacqueline; Illiger, Sebastian; Berger, Fabian; Gärtner, Barbara; von Müller, Lutz; Lohmann, Christoph H; Bauer, Katja; Grabau, Christina; Zibolka, Stefanie; Schlüter, Dirk; Geginat, Gernot; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Ihoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Here we describe a cluster of hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) among 26 patients with osteoarticular infections. The aim of the study was to define the source of C. difficile and to evaluate the impact of general infection control measures and antibiotic stewardship on the incidence of CDI.
    • Transcriptomic and Phenotypic Analysis Reveals New Functions for the Tat Pathway in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

      Avican, Ummehan; Beckstette, Michael; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Lavander, Moa; Dersch, Petra; Forsberg, Åke; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-10-15)
      The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system mediates the secretion of folded proteins that are identified via an N-terminal signal peptide in bacteria, plants, and archaea. Tat systems are associated with virulence in many bacterial pathogens, and our previous studies revealed that Tat-deficient Yersinia pseudotuberculosis was severely attenuated for virulence. Aiming to identify Tat-dependent pathways and phenotypes of relevance for in vivo infection, we analyzed the global transcriptome of parental and ΔtatC mutant strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis during exponential and stationary growth at 26°C and 37°C. The most significant changes in the transcriptome of the ΔtatC mutant were seen at 26°C during stationary-phase growth, and these included the altered expression of genes related to virulence, stress responses, and metabolism. Subsequent phenotypic analysis based on these transcriptome changes revealed several novel Tat-dependent phenotypes, including decreased YadA expression, impaired growth under iron-limited and high-copper conditions, as well as acidic pH and SDS. Several functionally related Tat substrates were also verified to contribute to these phenotypes. Interestingly, the phenotypic defects observed in the Tat-deficient strain were generally more pronounced than those in mutants lacking the Tat substrate predicted to contribute to that specific function. Altogether, this provides new insight into the impact of Tat deficiency on in vivo fitness and survival/replication of Y. pseudotuberculosis during infection.
    • Increased plasmid copy number is essential for Yersinia T3SS function and virulence.

      Wang, He; Avican, Kemal; Fahlgren, Anna; Erttmann, Saskia F; Nuss, Aaron M; Dersch, Petra; Fallman, Maria; Edgren, Tomas; Wolf-Watz, Hans; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsfoschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-29)
      Pathogenic bacteria have evolved numerous virulence mechanisms that are essential for establishing infections. The enterobacterium Yersinia uses a type III secretion system (T3SS) encoded by a 70-kilobase, low-copy, IncFII-class virulence plasmid. We report a novel virulence strategy in Y. pseudotuberculosis in which this pathogen up-regulates the plasmid copy number during infection. We found that an increased dose of plasmid-encoded genes is indispensable for virulence and substantially elevates the expression and function of the T3SS. Remarkably, we observed direct, tight coupling between plasmid replication and T3SS function. This regulatory pathway provides a framework for further exploration of the environmental sensing mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria.
    • RNA-based mechanisms of virulence control in Enterobacteriaceae.

      Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Nuss, Aaron M; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-21)
      Enteric pathogens of the family Enterobacteriaceae colonize various niches within animals and humans in which they compete with intestinal commensals and are attacked by the host immune system. To survive these hostile environments they possess complex, multilayer regulatory networks that coordinate the control of virulence factors, host-adapted metabolic functions and stress resistance. An important part of these intricate control networks are RNA-based control systems that enable the pathogen to fine-tune its responses. Recent next-generation sequencing approaches revealed a large repertoire of conserved and species-specific riboregulators, including numerous cis- and trans-acting non-coding RNAs, sensory RNA elements (RNA thermometers, riboswitches), regulatory RNA-binding proteins and RNA degrading enzymes which regulate colonization factors, toxins, host defense processes and virulence-relevant physiological and metabolic processes. All of which are important cues for pathogens to sense and respond to fluctuating conditions during the infection. This review covers infection-relevant riboregulators of E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella and Yersinia, highlights their versatile regulatory mechanisms, complex target regulons and functions, and discusses emerging topics and future challenges to fully understand and exploit RNA-based control to combat bacterial infections.
    • Temperature-responsive in vitro RNA structurome of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis.

      Righetti, Francesco; Nuss, Aaron M; Twittenhoff, Christian; Beele, Sascha; Urban, Kristina; Will, Sebastian; Bernhart, Stephan H; Stadler, Peter F; Dersch, Petra; Narberhaus, Franz; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-06-28)
      RNA structures are fundamentally important for RNA function. Dynamic, condition-dependent structural changes are able to modulate gene expression as shown for riboswitches and RNA thermometers. By parallel analysis of RNA structures, we mapped the RNA structurome of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis at three different temperatures. This human pathogen is exquisitely responsive to host body temperature (37 °C), which induces a major metabolic transition. Our analysis profiles the structure of more than 1,750 RNAs at 25 °C, 37 °C, and 42 °C. Average mRNAs tend to be unstructured around the ribosome binding site. We searched for 5'-UTRs that are folded at low temperature and identified novel thermoresponsive RNA structures from diverse gene categories. The regulatory potential of 16 candidates was validated. In summary, we present a dynamic bacterial RNA structurome and find that the expression of virulence-relevant functions in Y. pseudotuberculosis and reprogramming of its metabolism in response to temperature is associated with a restructuring of numerous mRNAs.
    • Anti-virulence Strategies to Target Bacterial Infections.

      Mühlen, Sabrina; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Resistance of important bacterial pathogens to common antimicrobial therapies and the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria are increasing at an alarming rate and constitute one of our greatest challenges in the combat of bacterial infection and accompanied diseases. The current shortage of effective drugs, lack of successful prevention measures and only a few new antibiotics in the clinical pipeline demand the development of novel treatment options and alternative antimicrobial therapies. Our increasing understanding of bacterial virulence strategies and the induced molecular pathways of the infectious disease provides novel opportunities to target and interfere with crucial pathogenicity factors or virulence-associated traits of the bacteria while bypassing the evolutionary pressure on the bacterium to develop resistance. In the past decade, numerous new bacterial targets for anti-virulence therapies have been identified, and structure-based tailoring of intervention strategies and screening assays for small-molecule inhibitors of such pathways were successfully established. In this chapter, we will take a closer look at the bacterial virulence-related factors and processes that present promising targets for anti-virulence therapies, recently discovered inhibitory substances and their promises and discuss the challenges, and problems that have to be faced.
    • Identification of a Distinct Substrate-binding Domain in the Bacterial Cysteine Methyltransferase Effectors NleE and OspZ.

      Zhang, Ying; Mühlen, Sabrina; Oates, Clare V; Pearson, Jaclyn S; Hartland, Elizabeth L; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The type III secretion system effector protein NleE from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli plays a key role in the inhibition of NF-κB activation during infection. NleE inactivates the ubiquitin chain binding activity of host proteins TAK1-binding proteins 2 and 3 (TAB2 and TAB3) by modifying the Npl4 zinc finger domain through S-adenosyl methionine-dependent cysteine methylation. Using yeast two-hybrid protein interaction studies, we found that a conserved region between amino acids 34 and 52 of NleE, in particular the motif (49)GITR(52), was critical for TAB2 and TAB3 binding. NleE mutants lacking (49)GITR(52) were unable to methylate TAB3, and wild type NleE but not NleE(49AAAA52) where each of GITR was replaced with alanine restored the ability of an nleE mutant to inhibit IL-8 production during infection. Another NleE target, ZRANB3, also associated with NleE through the (49)GITR(52) motif. Ectopic expression of an N-terminal fragment of NleE (NleE(34-52)) in HeLa cells showed competitive inhibition of wild type NleE in the suppression of IL-8 secretion during enteropathogenic E. coli infection. Similar results were observed for the NleE homologue OspZ from Shigella flexneri 6 that also bound TAB3 through the (49)GITR(52) motif and decreased IL-8 transcription through modification of TAB3. In summary, we have identified a unique substrate-binding motif in NleE and OspZ that is required for the ability to inhibit the host inflammatory response.
    • Hypoxia Decreases Invasin-Mediated Yersinia enterocolitica Internalization into Caco-2 Cells.

      Zeitouni, Nathalie E; Dersch, Petra; Naim, Hassan Y; von Köckritz-Blickwede, Maren; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Yersinia enterocolitica is a major cause of human yersiniosis, with enterocolitis being a typical manifestation. These bacteria can cross the intestinal mucosa, and invade eukaryotic cells by binding to host β1 integrins, a process mediated by the bacterial effector protein invasin. This study examines the role of hypoxia on the internalization of Y. enterocolitica into intestinal epithelial cells, since the gastrointestinal tract has been shown to be physiologically deficient in oxygen levels (hypoxic), especially in cases of infection and inflammation. We show that hypoxic pre-incubation of Caco-2 cells resulted in significantly decreased bacterial internalization compared to cells grown under normoxia. This phenotype was absent after functionally blocking host β1 integrins as well as upon infection with an invasin-deficient Y. enterocolitica strain. Furthermore, downstream phosphorylation of the focal adhesion kinase was also reduced under hypoxia after infection. In good correlation to these data, cells grown under hypoxia showed decreased protein levels of β1 integrins at the apical cell surface whereas the total protein level of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1) alpha was elevated. Furthermore, treatment of cells with the HIF-1 α stabilizer dimethyloxalylglycine (DMOG) also reduced invasion and decreased β1 integrin protein levels compared to control cells, indicating a potential role for HIF-1α in this process. These results suggest that hypoxia decreases invasin-integrin-mediated internalization of Y. enterocolitica into intestinal epithelial cells by reducing cell surface localization of host β1 integrins.
    • Toxoplasma gondii-induced neuronal alterations.

      Parlog, A; Schlüter, D; Dunay, I R; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-03)
      The zoonotic pathogen Toxoplasma gondii infects over 30% of the human population. The intracellular parasite can persist lifelong in the CNS within neurons modifying their function and structure, thus leading to specific behavioural changes of the host. In recent years, several in vitro studies and murine models have focused on the elucidation of these modifications. Furthermore, investigations of the human population have correlated Toxoplasma seropositivity with changes in neurological functions; however, the complex underlying mechanisms of the subtle behavioural alteration are still not fully understood. The parasites are able to induce direct modifications in the infected cells, for example by altering dopamine metabolism, by functionally silencing neurons as well as by hindering apoptosis. Moreover, indirect effects of the peripheral immune system and alterations of the immune status of the CNS, observed during chronic infection, might also contribute to changes in neuronal connectivity and synaptic plasticity. In this review, we will provide an overview and highlight recent advances, which describe changes in the neuronal function and morphology upon T. gondii infection.